Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is planning to skip playing for the Anfield club in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League so as to be eligible to play for Barcelona if he joins the Spanish side in January.

Coutinho is still nursing the ambition of forcing a move to Camp Nou to replace compatriot Neymar who has since joined PSG for a world record fee.

Coutinho is expected back at Anfield this week after international duty with Brazil.

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He was named in Liverpool’s squad for the Champions League group stages, but reports say he will try to avoid playing just so he would be eligible to play for the Catalans if he finally joins in January.

Liverpool takes on Manchester City in the English Premier League on Saturday before Tuesday’s Champions League home clash against Sevilla, and manager Jurgen Klopp may play Coutinho in any or both matches.

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